USA Today’s Susan Page: Obama administration most ‘dangerous’ to media in history

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By Erik Wemple October 27

At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.

The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not. Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.

That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..

Other gripes: Correspondents took aim at large-scale “deep background” briefings — attended by up to 40-odd reporters — at which ground rules specify no names for the officials in attendance and no quotations of anything they say. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke of covering the Boston Marathon bombings. As the story developed, Karl noted that the White House wasn’t giving out any information at all. So he went around it and found out that the feds were sending their high-value interrogation team to Boston. “No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl.

Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev noted how the White House stopped giving details on the fine wines served at state dinners, an opaque measure that she exposed in this story. In pursuing the piece, said Talev, she got the runaround from White House press officials, making her “so mad at them.” Over the course of a few weeks, she had to become, in essence, a wine correspondent.

Saturday was an appropriate moment to air such grievances. The day before, President Obama had opened the White House doors to Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who had just completed her recovery from Ebola at the National Institutes of Health. Prior to the session, the White House announced that still photographers would be allowed to document the proceedings. But print reporters and TV cameras would be out in the cold. At a briefing with White House press secretary Josh Earnest, Karl asked why. Earnest responded that “many of you did have the opportunity to see [Pham] deliver remarks at the NIH upon her departure from the hospital.”

Karl: “That’s not answering the question. Why was this decision made?”

Earnest: “Because reporters did have the opportunity to see her speak already.” Also, the press secretary said that neither President Obama nor Pham planned on making any comments at the event. Taken together, those explanations amount to a lump of nothing.

Talev said Saturday that it was “ridiculous” the White House didn’t provide full media access to the Pham-Obama meeting. In a Friday afternoon chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, recently retired ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton struggled to fathom the rationale for restricting access, given that the White House has been aggressive in sending the message that it’s fighting Ebola: “She’s been in government medical care for the last how many days?” notes Compton. “And she walks out unexpectedly looking terrific — why wouldn’t you want the world to see that the U.S. is doing what the White House has said? So today makes no sense to me.”

Yet there’s more texture to this access question. Last November, a large group of news organizations sent a letter to the White House protesting limited access for their photographers at newsworthy events involving the president. “The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases,” read the letter, in part.

One such visual press release fell into the laps of the media just last month. Obama met Sept. 16 at the White House with Ebola survivor Kent Brantly, a doctor who had contracted the virus while assisting patients in Liberia. Reporters and photographers weren’t allowed to attend that meeting, leaving news organizations with the option of running a photo from official White House photographer Pete Souza or choosing some other half-measure.

Doug Mills, a New York Times photographer who has been covering White Houses going back to the Reagan administration, says that, to the best of his recollection, the media wasn’t aware of the Brantly meeting until the White House released Souza’s photo. “Obviously we were pretty upset about it,” says Mills, though he noted that there was no firestorm over this episode. After some quiet discussions with others, Mills asked to have a chat with Earnest. “He apologized,” says Mills of Earnest. “He said, ‘We’ll do better,’ and I think that they have honestly tried to do better in every situation. … I think the relationship has gotten stronger, and I think Josh is making a lot of efforts to get us in” to events, says Mills.

Referring to the Pham photo access, Mills says, “I would say that this is a pretty good example of progress.” Christi Parsons, the WHCA’s president, tells the Erik Wemple Blog a similar story — that the White House has “increased” the number of opportunities for still photographers since last year’s protest.

The differing reactions to Pham’s appearance at the White House expose what a headache it is to run the WHCA. Radio, print, broadcast, still photographers — they all have different needs when it comes to access. One of the few things all agree on is that representatives from all media factions be allowed into everything. Which will happen at the same exact time that the government fulfills all pending FOIA requests.

There are other signs of improvement, according to Parsons. The White House is working on a weekly basis with a WHCA liaison to discuss “opportunities for more coverage,” with the result that “there have been several times when we have been able to work new coverage opportunities into the schedule,” she says. WHCA is now working on a set of “objectives” for further access to the White House, and at Saturday’s event there was a bit of fantasizing about a weekly Q&A session with the president himself.

When asked about this stuff, White House spokesman Eric Schultz issued this (on-the-record) response: “We believe in the value of transparency, and that is why we work to provide as much access as we can. That said, the press has a responsibility to always push for more access and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.”

Pew Study: Drudge Report More Trusted Than CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS


Independent media titan beats mainstream networks

by Paul Joseph Watson | October 21, 2014

A Pew Research study has found that the Drudge Report, the most pre-eminent independent media source on the web, is trusted by the American public more than CNN, MSNBC, ABC, or CBS.

While the likes of MSNBC and CNN are distrusted by 22% and 20% respectively in the poll, only 9% of respondents said that they distrusted the Drudge Report, a figure on a par with NPR.

The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Huffington Post are all more distrusted than Drudge.

Drudge’s bracketing with the likes of NPR, BBC and Bloomberg suggest that the high level of trust is not merely because the respondents haven’t heard of the Drudge Report, a factor that probably explains why the likes of Think Progress and the Daily Kos appear near the bottom of the list.

The study found that Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the Glenn Beck Program were the most distrusted news sources, which is probably due to the fact that all three offer staunch conservative views likely to cause polarization amongst liberal respondents to the poll.

In general, trust in mainstream press continues to collapse, with a September 2014 Gallup poll revealing Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately, and fairly” returning to an all time low of 40%.

In addition, many of MSNBC’s flagship shows, such as Morning Joe and The Rachel Maddow Show just posted some of their lowest quarterly ratings results ever, emphasizing how Americans are turning away from network media and getting their news from more varied and independent sources.

“You know there’s a problem with the media when Al-Jazeera is trusted more than NBC, CNN, and MSNBC,” remarks Zero Hedge.

View the Pew results below.


Greta Van Susteren reveals ‘weird’ WH arm-twisting to get Fox to back down on Benghazi reporting


The White House asked host to tamp down Pentagon reporter Jennifer Griffin’s investigation of the Benghazi affair

by Bizpac Review | September 7, 2014

Fox News Channel host Greta Van Susteren told her viewers the White House asked her to tamp down Pentagon reporter Jennifer Griffin’s investigation of the Benghazi affair, which she could only describe as “weird.”

In her “Off the Record” segment on Friday, she reviewed how Fox News has been the only major news organization to fearlessly pursue the Obama administration’s stonewalling of the September 11, 2012 attack on America’s Libyan consulate and the deaths of four brave men.

After characterizing the quest for getting information as “pulling teeth,” and the Susan Rice/Obama sideshow blaming the YouTube video for provoking the assault, Van Susteren said, “A few weeks later, when Fox news reporter Jennifer Griffin said she was told there was a stand-down order at Benghazi, I got a weird call from the Obama administration trying to pressure me to get Jennifer to back down on her report.”

“I thought the call from the Obama administration was dirty,” she concluded. “Incidentally, I don’t control my colleagues and they don’t control me.”


Countering assertion that GOP’s anti-immigration policies turning them into “party of white people”

by Evan McMurry | 2:45 pm, August 4th, 2014

On Laura Ingraham’s radio show Monday, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) accused the Democrats of waging a “war on whites.”

Brooks was countering an assertion by Ron Fournier on Fox News Sunday that the GOP’s anti-immigration policies were turning them into a “party of white people,” which would culminate in a debilitating demographic disadvantage. Brooks flipped that around.

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party,” he said. “And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”

“Every single demographic group is hurt by falling wages and lost jobs,” he continued. “So the Democrats, they have to demagogue on this and try and turn it into a racial issue, which is an emotional issue, rather than a thoughtful issue. If it becomes a thoughtful issue, then we win and we win big. And they lose and they lose big.”

Ingraham called the “war on whites” characterization “a little out there.” “That phraseology might not be the best choice,” she said.

This Democrat Congresswoman’s Office Used The IRS As A Threat Against Someone Who Called In To Ask A Question

Andrew Clark | August 1st, 2014
When Dwayne Horner called Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office to ask a question, he probably didn’t think he would be treated rudely. But that’s precisely what happened.

In a speech on the House floor, Jackson Lee said that Democrats did not try to impeach President Bush when he was in office. That is false – in fact, she was a cosponsor of a 2008 bill that tried to do just that!

Horner called her office, asking her to explain the blatant contradiction. First, he got an admission of guilt. “We are aware that the congresswoman has made contradicting statements in her remarks on the floor,” the person who answered the phone said. Then, Horner spoke to another staffer.

“Oh look it here, we have one of those right wing, tea-bagger nut jobs on the phone taking his cues from FOX News,” said staffer told Horner. After Horner reminded him that he was a taxpayer, and that taxpayer dollars fund her office, he replied, “I doubt you even pay taxes and the IRS will find you soon enough.”

Using the IRS – in light of the IRS scandal – to threaten a caller? Congresswoman Jackson Lee, call your office. Actually, don’t, because if that’s how they treat taxpayers, I’m not sure you’ll want to.

From PJ Media:

That was startling. I asked to speak to someone in the office to register my thoughts on a congresswoman lying on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. From there, it got crazy but not as crazy, and then a little crazier.

I was transferred to a gentleman on Lee’s staff. When I again asked him about the contradiction and stated that perhaps I was confused, the man said “Oh look it here, we have one of those right wing, tea-bagger nut jobs on the phone taking his cues from FOX News.”

He then accused me of being un-American, raising his voice at me while asking me to calm down, and telling me that I am just on some mission to destroy our country. When I calmly asked for his name, he said “I don’t have to give it to you because I don’t want to show up on some right wing blog and be on your Twitter account.” Keep in mind, I never said who I was – he just made assumptions and attacked me. When I reminded him that he gets paid by our tax dollars, he said “I doubt you even pay taxes and the IRS will find you soon enough,” and hung up on me.



Full-on press blackout testament to dinosaur media’s growing irrelevance

In the US: 4 Major News Networks, Zero Bilderberg 2014 Coverage

With the exception of 24-hour cable news providers, Americans rely on 4 major television networks to deliver them information regarding important world events: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

It is with predictable disappointment to announce all four networks failed to inform the public of a secretive and extremely exclusive meeting of central bankers, CEOs, public officials and world dignitaries taking place this weekend.

From May 29 through today, June 1, esteemed academicians, hand picked journalists, intelligence officials, world banking oligarchs and the CEOs and bosses of Royal Dutch Shell, Google and Microsoft, to name just a few, slinked behind closed doors at the Marriott hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, to do God knows what.

But watching the major news networks and monitoring the domestic news wires, you’d never guess this meeting happened.

With the conference now into its fourth and final day, one would expect at least a trickle of articles from the mainstream press regarding Bilderberg 2014, if at the least to perform the routine mock, shame and ridicule of “tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists” claiming participants are working towards a “new world order.”

While past meetings have been afforded at least some press, this year neither of the four networks opted to cover Bilderberg 2014.

NBC was most upfront about it:

Other networks have awarded the meeting of elite power brokers press in the past, but for some reason didn’t find this year’s globalist shindig quite as enticing (click to enlarge):




Indeed, the degree to which all four networks uniformly ignored the matter is a curious coincidence, leaving the door open for skeptics to argue they’ve been handed specific orders to disregard the assembly, colluding to perform what’s termed a “media blackout.”

“The reason they want secrecy is because they’re doing evil,” explained late veteran Bilderberg investigative journalist Jim Tucker. For decades, Tucker did tireless work attempting to expose the group, following them to multiple meeting locations around the globe and reporting on leaks concerning their un-official agendas. “Evil is done under the cover of darkness, good works are done in the sunshine.”

But surely, you ask, the top cable news network in the country, CNN, can devote at least a fraction of time or webspace to cover this important meeting? Nope. Are you kidding? They’re busy worrying about the next Clippers owner.


To be fair, one of their hired propagandists, Jake Tapper, did do a superficial, surface report on the conference – last year – putting Bilderberg protestors on the same level as “bigfoot believers” and labeling Alex Jones a “provocateur.”

But surely the newspaper that carries “all the news that’s fit to print” would deem a meeting of elite power brokers “news”? Nope. Not this year.. Maybe that’s because some of its editors have attended past meetings.

“On its face, it makes no sense the corporate media would ignore and fail to report a confab comprised of newsworthy royal elites, chancellors, prime ministers, presidents, ambassadors, secretaries of state, Wall street bankers and investors, CEOs of transnational corporations, and corporate media executives,” writes Kurt Nimmo. “It makes no sense — that is until you realize the corporate media is owned and directed by this very same elite. In the past, darlings of the corporate media have attended Bilderberg meetings, including the late Peter Jennings of ABC, Joseph C. Harsch of NBC, the “liberal” Bill Moyers of PBS, the ‘conservative’ William F. Buckley, Jr., Robert L. Bartley of the Wall Street Journal, the neocon William Kristol, Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, the late Katharine Graham of the CIA’s favorite newspaper, the Washington Post, Leslie Stahl of CBS, and many others. Many are also members of the CFR and the Trilateral Commission.”

“Jim Tucker puts it best,” writes Michael Collins Piper for American Free Press. “If 140 of the world’s best known baseball players or movie stars gathered secretly under armed guard at an exclusive resort for an entire weekend, every major newspaper and magazine and all of the tabloids would be on hand, clamoring to get inside, demanding to know what was going on behind those closed doors. All of the television gossip shows would be chatting about it regularly. The whole world would know about that secret meeting in a heartbeat.”

Besides a limited number of American sites, and American sites owned by foreign governments, mainstream Bilderberg coverage this year has hovered around zero, a further indication of the dying dinosaur media’s increasing irrelevance.

But even if journalists ventured to Denmark, which Infowars reporters did, they wouldn’t get very far. Taxpayer-funded armed security details keep a 24-hour guard, huge eyesore fences block nosy journalists out and invitees are strictly forbidden from revealing anything discussed at meetings. Secrecy always trumps transparency at Bilderberg.

“I don’t think they’re happy about it, they prefer nothing at all, no publicity, they prefer absolute secrecy,” Tucker said in an interview, commenting on Bilderberg’s sentiments toward the growing media interest garnered in recent years.

The Bilderberg Group recently worked up the courage to put up a website.


This gesture was in all likelihood spurred by incessant coverage from independent media, but it could also mean the group is now confident enough in their plans to move out from behind the curtain.

One thing’s certain.. Vice President Biden’s frequent hat tips to the “New world order” aren’t particularly reassuring.

But then again, maybe there is hope after all: